Recognition of patient referral desires in an academic managed care plan
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OBJECTIVE: To determine the frequency and determinants of provider nonrecognition of patients’ desires for specialist referral.
DESIGN: Prospective study.
SETTING: Internal medicine clinic in an academic medical center providing primary care to patients enrolled in a managed care plan.
PARTICIPANTS: Twelve faculty internists serving as primary care providers (PCPs) for 856 patient visits.
MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: Patients were given previsit and postvisit questionnaires asking about referral desire and visit satisfaction. Providers, blinded to patients’ referral desire, were asked after the visit whether a referral was discussed, who initiated the referral discussion, and whether the referral was indicated. Providers failed to discuss referral with 27% of patients who indicated a definite desire for referral and with 56% of patients, who indicated a possible desire for referral. There was significant variability in provider recognition of patient referral desire. Recognition is defined as the provider indicating that a referral was discussed when the patient marked a definite or possible desire for referral. Provider recognition improved significantly (P<.05), when the patient had more than one referral desire, if the patient or a family member was a health care worker and when the patient noted a definite desire versus a possible desire for referral. Patients were more likely (P<.05) to initiate a referral discussion when they had seen the PCP previously and had more than one referral desire. Of patient-initiated referral requests, 14% were considered “not indicated” by PCPs. Satisfaction with care did not differ in patients with a referral desire that were referred and those that were nor referred.
CONCLUSIONS: These PCPs frequently failed to explicitly recognize patients’ referral desires. Patients were more likely to initiate discussions of a referral desire when they saw their usual PCP and had more than a single referral desire.
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- Recognition of patient referral desires in an academic managed care plan
Journal of General Internal Medicine
Volume 15, Issue 4 , pp 242-247
- Cover Date
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- managed care
- patient satisfaction
- referral desire
- Industry Sectors
- Author Affiliations
- 1. Received from the Department of Medicine, Division of General Internal Medicine, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver, Colo